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Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia has a higher mortality rate than any other mental illness. People with anorexia are up to ten times more likely to die as a result of their illness compared to any other mental illness. The most common cause of death is cardiac arrest, electrolyte and fluid imbalances, co-occurring alcohol abuse and suicide.

What to look for

  • Less than normal weight range for age/height
  • Restrictive and unusual eating rituals
  • Intense fear of becoming fat, feeling fat despite excessive weight loss
  • Drive for thinness
  • Perfectionism
  • Distorted body image, extreme concern with weight and shape
  • Rigid, inflexible thinking/black or white thinking/all or nothing thinking
  • Avoiding risky behavior/situations

Medical complications

Osteoporosis/osteopenia, muscle wasting, severe dehydration, cardiac instability, headaches, fainting/dizziness, constipation, lanugo, overall weakness/fatigue, loss of menses, sensitivity to cold.

 

Bulimia Nervosa

People with bulimia can fall within the normal range for their age and weight and can’t be identified by their outward appearance. They fear weight gain, want desperately to lose weight and are intensely unhappy with their body size and shape. Bulimia is characterized, due to deprivation of food followed by starvation, by eating unusually large amounts of food and experiencing a loss of control over the eating. This is followed by compensatory behaviors such as purging, exercising, laxative abuse, fasting, or compulsive exercise. Secretiveness, disgust and shame can be eliminated with the right treatment.

What to look for

  • Within normal weight range for age/height
  • Intense fear of becoming fat
  • Bingeing
  • Self-induced vomiting (vomiting/dental erosion)
  • Purging through laxative and/or diuretic abuse, excessive exercise, fasting
  • Performance and appearance oriented
  • Weight fluctuations, frequent dieting, extreme concern with weight & shape
  • Hoarding and/or hiding food
  • Impulsiveness
  • Engaging in risky behaviors/situations

Medical complications

Osteoporosis/osteopenia, muscle wasting, severe dehydration, cardiac instability, headaches, fainting/dizziness, constipation, lanugo, overall weakness/fatigue, loss of menses, sensitivity to cold.